An Entertaining Day

The less said about this day, the better. Except that there’s probably quite a lot that can be said. It was an eventful day. Rather close to the edge, in a couple of ways.

Kas was booked into a cross-country running event near Brighton, so we thought we’d go down for the weekend. We’d booked a hotel in Lewes for the evening and had planned a bit of Tommy Tourism in Brighton on Sunday before coming home.

Saturday Morning

On the way down on Saturday, we had time to do a parkrun near Pinewood Studios – well, I guess we had time because we made time – but back at the plot, it was a relatively flat course in woodland and we got around it pretty well.

We stopped at Cobham Services for some breakfast and put some different clothes on while we were there.

At some point during the day Kas decided she didn’t fancy the cross-country any more. So she said she’d just go for a training run on the hills above Brighton while the girls and me did a spot of caching.

The Beacon

We parked up at the Ditchling Beacon car park, planning to do the “PUCK Butterfly” series on the Downs above Brighton. It looked eminently feasible even though we weren’t starting until lunchtime. The walk around the caches seemed to involve a walk down a steep hill into a valley. And then a climb back up again. The weather when we set off was marginal. It was grey but not actually raining, so we assumed it would all be OK.

In truth, the walk down the hill was OK. We found most of the caches, although a couple of them took some time. When we were about 3/4 of the way down, the weather took a decided turn for the worse. It started raining. It got quite heavy and time was moving on, so we decided to turn uphill and start going home. About half-way up the hill we were making very slow progress and getting very wet. We thought we’d only got an hour or so of light left. That’s not long, so we took the always painful decision to quit caching and just go back to the car.

On the Ridge

When we reached the ridge at the top of the hill we were still over a mile from the car. It was nearly dark and the ridgeline exposed us to very heavy rain and very strong winds. When I say “strong” winds, I mean winds that were really difficult to walk against. It was bad enough that I had some serious concerns about our safety. But sadly there was nothing we could do but keep going in the direction of the car.

At least we had a GPS, so we knew which way to go, even if we couldn’t see it. About half a mile from the car Kas phoned. She’d returned to the car but we weren’t there. So she ran down the steep hill into Ditchling village, where she was waiting for us in a cafe. She thankfully had some money on her and was able to buy a warm drink. She didn’t have a change of clothes though, as those were in the car.

Dripping Wet

Thankfully once we found her, the cafe was still open. We decided we better all get warmed up, so we had hot drinks and cake. We also began the process of rationalising our very bad afternoon into something that becomes more and more death-defying every time we tell it. In truth there probably wasn’t ever any imminent danger of death, but it makes for a good story.

Whilst sitting in the cafe we hung up our coats. They were so wet that they had to put a towel on the floor underneath. When we got into the car to go to Lewes we were still dripping wet. It took at least 3 days for the car seats to dry out completely.

Warming Up

Once we got to our hotel and got checked in, we began the process of thawing out properly. It wasn’t late in the afternoon, because it was January. It was totally dark by 4:15 pm and it was only about 5:30 when we got to the hotel. We spent a good hour and a half getting cleaned, dry and warm. We then headed out for dinner at a local Italian chain restaurant that Kas had booked previously. The tales of daring got expanded and embellished somewhat further while we were there. The result was the now epic family saga that we have today. It was a good enough one, in fact, that most days that don’t go according to plan now end up being compared and contrasted with this one.